On four straight nights in late June of 1967, the CBS Television Network aired a special program entitled "A CBS News Inquiry: The Warren Report", which was an extensive study and re-investigation of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
During the four-hour probe, CBS interviewed witnesses and evaluated the evidence in the case. CBS even went beyond what the Warren Commission did three years earlier by more accurately re-creating the shooting by firing rifle shots at a moving target from a specially-built 60-foot-high tower (to simulate the height from which assassin Lee Harvey Oswald fired his three shots at JFK from the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas on November 22, 1963).
This CBS "Warren Report" special is a very impressive and well-made program, which dives in-depth into the questions and real evidence surrounding the murders of both John F. Kennedy and Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit.
The entire four-hour documentary program can be viewed below (and HERE). Also included are the original commercials from those four 1967 CBS broadcasts. The "Marlboro Man" ads are fun to see. They will instantly transport you back to the 1960s again.
LET'S EXAMINE A FEW TEXT EXCERPTS AND HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE EXCELLENT 1967 CBS-TV DOCUMENTARY,
"A CBS NEWS INQUIRY: THE WARREN REPORT":
With respect to the brown paper package that Lee Harvey Oswald was said to have carried into the Texas School Book Depository Building on the morning of President Kennedy's assassination (November 22, 1963), CBS-TV reporter Dan Rather performed a very interesting re-enactment for the CBS viewing audience during the first segment of the four-hour CBS special.
Mr. Rather shows the TV audience a brown homemade paper package, which Rather tells us contains a dismantled Mannlicher-Carcano rifle just like Lee Oswald's. Mr. Rather confirms the length of the rifle inside his re-created package as 34.8 inches, the exact length of Oswald's disassembled Carcano, which was a rifle found by police on the sixth floor of the Book Depository 52 minutes after JFK's assassination.
It's true that Rather could not put the re-created package under his armpit while it was also cupped in his hand. But it struck me as interesting that only a small portion of the bag (only a very few inches of the top of the bag) was sticking out above Rather's shoulder when he started to walk away from the CBS camera with the package cupped in his hand (the same way that witness Buell Wesley Frazier said Oswald had cupped the so-called "curtain rod" package in his hand back in 1963).
Unless someone was paying very close attention (which Frazier testified he wasn't), the few inches of that paper package sticking above the shoulder of the person carrying it could easily have gone unnoticed by a witness.
Concerning the initial "Mauser" rifle identification made by the Dallas police in 1963, Dallas Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman offers up the following verbatim comments for the CBS cameras:
SEYMOUR WEITZMAN -- "Mr. Boone was climbing on top and I was down on my knees looking. And I moved a box and he moved a carton, and there it was. And he, in turn, hollered we had found the rifle."
EDDIE BARKER (CBS NEWS) -- "What kind of gun did you think it was?"
WEITZMAN -- "To my sorrow, I looked at it and it looked like a Mauser, which I said it was. But I said the wrong one; because just at a glance, I saw the Mauser action....and, I don't know, it just came out as words it was a German Mauser. Which it wasn't. It's an Italian type gun. But from a glance, it's hard to describe; and that's all I saw, was at a glance. I was mistaken. And it was proven that my statement was a mistake; but it was an honest mistake."
At the end of Part 1 of the four-part series, Walter Cronkite summarizes for the viewing audience the conclusions of CBS News with respect to the key questions being explored in Part 1:
CRONKITE -- "We have shown, by carefully-controlled experiments, that a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle CAN be fired more rapidly and accurately than the [Warren] Commission believed.
"Now these points strengthen the Warren Report's basic finding. They make it MORE likely that Oswald shot the President. They significantly weaken a central contention of the critics....their contention that Oswald could NOT have done it because he did not have enough time to fire.
"It is now reasonable to assume that the first shot, fired through a tree, missed its mark....and that it was this shot that Governor Connally heard. The Governor has insisted all along that he was not struck by the first shot. It now appears he was correct. Now we can answer all our secondary questions ---
"Did Oswald own a rifle? .... He did.
"Did Oswald take a rifle to the Book Depository Building? .... He did.
"Where was Oswald when the shots were fired? .... In the building, on the sixth floor.
"Was Oswald's rifle fired from the building? .... It was.
"How many shots were fired? .... Three.
"How fast could Oswald's rifle be fired? .... Fast enough.
"What was the time span of the shots? .... Seven or eight seconds.
"Did Lee Harvey Oswald shoot President Kennedy? .... CBS News concludes that he did."
In Part 2 of the CBS "Warren Report" broadcast, famed amateur filmmaker
Abraham Zapruder was interviewed from Dealey Plaza. Mr. Zapruder offered up these comments:
ZAPRUDER -- "I'm not a ballistic expert, but I believe if there were shots that were coming by my right ear, I would hear a different sound. I heard shots coming from--I wouldn't know which direction to say--but it was proven from the Texas Book Depository. And they all sounded alike; there was no different sound at all."
Dr. Cyril Wecht is also interviewed during Part 2, and somewhat surprisingly provides these remarks regarding President Kennedy's head movement after the fatal shot struck JFK:
DR. WECHT -- "I have seen too many biological and physical variations occur in forensic pathology to say that it would have been impossible. I say that it is quite unlikely; I say that it is difficult for me to accept....but I would have to admit that it is a possibility that his body could have moved in that direction after having been struck by a bullet that hit him in the back of the head."
In his first interview since his 1964 Warren Commission testimony, JFK's primary autopsy physician, Dr. James J. Humes, vividly describes President Kennedy's head wounds to Dan Rather and the CBS audience:
DAN RATHER -- "About the head wound....there was only one?"
DR. HUMES -- "There was only one entrance wound in the head; yes, sir."
RATHER -- "And that was where?"
DR. HUMES -- "That was posterior, about two-and-a-half centimeters to the right of the mid-line posteriorly."
RATHER -- "And the exit wound?"
DR. HUMES -- "And the exit wound was a large, irregular wound to the front and right side of the President's head."
RATHER -- "Now can you be absolutely certain that the wound you describe as the entry wound was in FACT that?"
DR. HUMES -- "Yes, indeed, we can. Very precisely and incontrovertibly. The missile traversed the skin and then traversed the bony skull....and as it passed through the skull it produced a characteristic coning or bevelling effect on the inner aspect of the skull. Which is scientific evidence that the wound was made from behind and passed forward through the President's skull."
RATHER -- "This is very important....you say there's scientific evidence....is it conclusive scientific evidence?"
DR. HUMES -- "Yes, sir; it is."
RATHER -- "Is there any doubt that the wound at the back of the President's head was the entry wound?"
DR. HUMES -- "There is absolutely no doubt, sir."
Regarding the controversial Single-Bullet Theory, Walter Cronkite provides these words of logic and common sense:
CRONKITE -- "If all three shots hit, then one of them would have had to pass through the President's neck, emerge at 1,800 feet per second, headed on a downward path toward the midst of the Presidential car and the six people in it, and vanish in mid-air, hitting nothing, and leaving no mark. Well, this was more than the Commission could stomach. Despite its own words, the Single-Bullet Theory IS essential to its findings. ....
"Our own view on the evidence is that it is difficult to believe the Single-Bullet Theory. But, to believe the other theories is even MORE difficult. If the Governor's wounds were caused by a separate bullet, then we must believe that a bullet passed through the President's neck, emerged at high velocity on a course that was taking it directly into the middle of the automobile, and then vanished without a trace.
"Or, we can complicate matters even further--as some do--by adding a second assassin, who fires almost simultaneously with Oswald and whose bullet travels miraculously a trajectory identical with Oswald's and that second assassin, too, vanishes without a trace.
"Difficult to believe as the Single-Bullet Theory may be, it seems to be the LEAST difficult of all those that are available. In the end, like the Commission, we are persuaded that a single bullet wounded both President Kennedy and Governor Connally."
The man who first discovered the "Stretcher Bullet" at Parkland Memorial Hospital (Warren Commission Exhibit 399), Darrell Tomlinson, was interviewed by CBS. Tomlinson said the following:
QUESTION -- "As you think back, is there any doubt in your mind today that the stretcher on which you found that bullet was the stretcher that came off of the elevator?"
DARRELL C. TOMLINSON -- "Well, I know that. THAT I know. I just don't know who was on that stretcher."
QUESTION -- "But the stretcher WAS on the elevator?"
TOMLINSON -- "Right."
QUESTION -- "And this was the elevator that Governor Connally would have been placed on to go to the operating room?"
TOMLINSON -- "Yes, sir; that's the one he went up on."
Governor John Connally was interviewed by Eddie Barker about the events in Dallas:
GOVERNOR CONNALLY -- "The only way that I could ever reconcile my memory of what happened and what occurred, with respect to the One-Bullet Theory is....it HAD to be the SECOND bullet that might have hit us both."
EDDIE BARKER -- "Do you believe, Governor Connally, that the first bullet could have missed, the second one hit both of you, and the third one hit President Kennedy?"
CONNALLY -- "That's possible. That's possible."
With respect to the 11/22/63 murder of policeman J.D. Tippit in the Dallas suburb of Oak Cliff, witness Domingo Benavides was interviewed by Eddie Barker at the Tippit murder site on Tenth Street during Part 3 of the CBS broadcast. Benavides, in this 1967 interview, now seemed absolutely certain that Lee Harvey Oswald was Tippit's killer:
EDDIE BARKER -- "Is there any doubt in your mind that Oswald was the man you had seen shoot Tippit?"
DOMINGO BENAVIDES -- "No, sir; there was no doubt at all. Period. I could even tell you how he combed his hair and the clothes he wore and what-have-you and the details....and if he'd had a scar on his face, I could have probably told you about it. You don't forget things like that."
In the 4th and final segment of "The Warren Report", we're treated to these delightful comments by Walter Cronkite concerning lawyer and "Rush To Judgment" author Mark Lane (which are remarks that always make me smile, as Walter tells it like it is):
CRONKITE -- "Well, Mr. Lane, who accuses the [Warren] Commission of playing fast and loose with the evidence does not always allow facts to get in the way of his own theories. In 'Rush To Judgment', for example, he writes, 'The statements of eyewitnesses close to the President tended to confirm the likelihood that the shot came from the right and not from the rear'.
"Well, Lane then quotes Associated Press photographer James Altgens and another eyewitness, Charles Brehm, as giving testimony that would support the idea of a killer on the Grassy Knoll.
"Yet Mr. Altgens, as we saw Monday night, is entirely certain that all the shots came from behind, a fact that Mr. Lane does not mention. As for Mr. Brehm, Eddie Barker discovered that he holds no brief either for the Grassy Knoll theory or for the use of his words by Mark Lane." ....
CHARLES BREHM -- "Mark Lane takes very great liberties with adding to my quotation. I never said that any shot came from here [pointing toward the Grassy Knoll] like I was quoted by Mr. Lane. Mr. Lane would like me to have positively identified what I saw fly over here as skull....although I told him I could not [identify it]....I did not examine [it]....I thought it was....but I could not. So, he has added his interpretations to what I said, and consequently that's where the story comes from that I said that a shot come [sic] from up there [pointing toward the Knoll again]. No shot came from up there [the Knoll] at any time during the whole fiasco that afternoon."
Eric Sevareid of CBS News provided a very interesting and insightful commentary near the end of Part 4 of "The Warren Report" documentary:
ERIC SEVAREID -- "What fed the conspiracy notion about the Kennedy assassination among many Americans was the sheer incongruity of the affair. All that power and majesty wiped out in an instant by one skinny, weak-chinned little character. It was like believing that the Queen Mary had sunk without a trace because of a log floating somewhere in the Atlantic. Or that AT&T stock had fallen to zero because a drunk somewhere tore out his telephone wires. ....
"And so, three-and-a-half years later, there are people who still think some group of men are living somewhere carrying in their breasts the most explosive secret conceivable....knowledge of a plot to kill Mr. Kennedy.
"These imagined men supposedly go about their lives under iron self-discipline, never falling out with each other, never giving out a hint of suspicion to anyone else.
"And nearly three years after the Warren inquiry finished its painful and onerous work, there are not only the serious critics who point to the various mistakes of commission or omission....mistakes of a consequence one can only guess at, and of a kind that have probably plagued every lengthy, voluminous official investigation ever staged. There are also people who think the Commission itself was a conspiracy to cover up something.
"In the first place, it would be utterly impossible in the American arena of the fierce and free press and politics to conceal a conspiracy among so many individuals who live in the public eye.
"In the second place, the deepest allegiance of men like Chief Justice Warren, or of John McCloy, does not lie with any president, political party, or current cause. It lies with history....their name and place in history. That is all they live for in their later years.
"If they knowingly suppressed or distorted decisive evidence about such an event as a Presidential murder, their descendants would bear accursed names forever. The notion that they would do such a thing is idiotic."
Well said, Mr. Sevareid. Very well said.